Guiding the next generation of aspiring engineers
Raven McLaurin, environmental engineering ‘22, found a meaningful path through her studies and involvement on campus.
By Lesa Bressanelli
Video by Allison DeBusk
Even though the building only opened in August 2020, senior environmental engineering major Raven McLaurin knows Fitts-Woolard Hall like the back of her hand — from long nights with friends spent studying for exams to showing prospective students engineering on display as a student ambassador for the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering (CCEE). But Fitts-Woolard Hall is only one of many places that McLaurin calls home given her involvement in research, mentorship and leadership across campus after four years.
Pursuing environmental engineering was an obvious choice for McLaurin, who wanted to use her mathematics and science skills to make the world a better place.
“I wanted to do something where I felt challenged and felt like I was doing something very meaningful,” McLaurin said. “Doing environmental engineering which is not necessarily plant science or animal science… It’s more making sure that we as a society grow and we don’t neglect the natural environment as we grow.”
Born and raised in Raleigh, NC, McLaurin was excited to stay local and attend NC State, especially after watching role models in her life go to the University and attending athletics and other special events before submitting her application.
“I got involved with things at NC State being in Raleigh at a young age and knew this is where I wanted to go,” she said. “It felt like I had a community already.”
That community continued to grow as she progressed through her classes, finding friendships and support while weathering difficult coursework, and through NC State activities such as the Moonlight Howl and Run and the Krispy Kreme Challenge.
McLaurin has put classroom knowledge to work through internships and co-ops, including positions with North Carolina Department of Transportation’s (NCDOT) Rail Division and Hydraulics Unit, the Lane Construction Corporation and Duke Energy. Next year, she will also assist in research with the Science and Technologies for Phosphorus Sustainability (STEPS) Center and the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering’s Biosystems Analytics Lab.
Other opportunities include working with Engineers Without Borders, a global nonprofit, where she assisted a team in building a rain gauge system to capture water for community use in Guatemala.
There are so many avenues and opportunities if you just want them, and the resources and connections are there so you can really choose your own path.
While giving guidance and perspective on coursework and research opportunities to prospective students as a CCEE student ambassador, McLaurin also provides mentorship through the Minority Engineering Program and to first-year undergraduate women in STEM as a resident advisor (RA) for the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) Village after being a Villager herself.
“Being an ambassador overlaps with my RA role because I am working for the Women in Science and Engineering Village on campus so it’s a lot of first-time freshmen and women in STEM who may not have had a role model,” McLaurin said. “I kind of get to step into that and show them at least what I’ve done on NC State’s campus and how I got involved and see them take their own path.”
During her time with CCEE and the larger College of Engineering, she appreciated the fluidity in figuring out the path she wanted to take with her degree.
“Nothing really feels as final as when I was first picking a major,” McLaurin said. “There are so many avenues and opportunities if you just want them, and the resources and connections are there so you can really choose your own path.”
McLaurin hopes to have a career working within a government entity post-graduation. While graduating with her bachelor’s degree this May, she will be spending another year with the Wolfpack as she finishes her accelerated master’s degree in environmental engineering.